All of the things that argue in favour of a Schraum release are present and accounted for on Emißatett's qui-pro-quo-dis, foremost among them a set-list that features both improvisation and formal composition. In addition, Emißatett eschews conventional group design for a more unusual set-up that sees Cologne-based cellist-composer Elisabeth Fügemann joined by Matthias Muche (trombone), Robert Landfermann (double bass), Philip Zoubek (prepared piano), and Etienne Nillesen (prepared snare drum and cymbals). Theirs is very much a bold and blustery take on experimental chamber jazz that's, to its credit, not lacking in humour. Though Emißatett usually functions as a cello-trombone-double bass trio, Fügemann decided to mix things up on the project by adding Zoubek and Nillesen to the sessions, resulting in a forty-eight-minute collection that alternates between trio and quintet pieces.
Like Fügemann herself, who is involved in a dizzying number of other projects besides Emißatett, qui-pro-quo-dis freely ranges across genres, drawing on free improvisation, experimental music, new contemporary music, and jazz as it makes its way through ten provocative settings. All of the other musicians bring to the recording impressive backgrounds marked by formal training and extensive session work with fellow forward-thinkers.
Fügemann's cello is an integral part of the overall sound, but like all good leaders she grants her bandmates ample room to maneuver. Landfermann's agile playing is a delight throughout, but the others are as nimble and expressive. Obviously the impact of the recording is helped along by the timbral contrasts between the instruments, which enables the five to generate a sound suggestive of a larger chamber ensemble. The album's longest track is the closing “Outro,” a twelve-minute improv that reveals Fügemann and company's special affection for the form. The recording's appeal is also enhance by the inclusion of different instrumental set-ups. While much of qui-pro-quo-dis is quintet-oriented, the improv “Duo,” for instance, is given over entirely to Muche and Landfermann.
Though only three of the ten pieces are characterized as free improvs, the other seven also have been composed by Fügemann to allow for extensive freedom in the musicians' performances. It would be interesting to see the formal notation for “Fragmente,” for example, given how uproarious certain sections of it are; much the same might be said for “Upper Structure,” though in this case it's primarily the ponderous explorative tone that makes the material feel unrestricted. One gets the impression from such cases that Fügemann has more provided directional guidelines for the musicians than strict notation; her writing certainly doesn't appear to delimit their individual expressiveness, and the way the five attack the material also suggests they derived a great deal of pleasure from the sessions.